Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Czech Spy's Menorah

From a story on a spy:

Retired, Koecher takes daily exercise in the nearby forest. Hana still works, arranging seminars that bring together construction professionals and professors from technical schools. Their upstairs study includes a menorah, a hefty collection of books on the history of espionage and texts on philosophy and logic, among other topics.

A menorah?

Born in 1934 in Bratislava, the capital of today’s Slovakia, Koecher’s mother Irena was a Slovak Jew

Who was he?

Karel Koecher, the only foreign agent ever known to have infiltrated the CIA.  Koecher was a Czech citizen who had been living undercover in the US for 21 years. Alternately codenamed Rino, Turian or Pedro, he had moved to America in 1965 to establish himself as a mole within the CIA. Koecher’s KGB case officer, Colonel Alexander Sokolov, would later call him a super-spy.


In the meantime, Hana was working in the diamond trade and the Koechers accumulated wealth. Their nightlife picked up and they began attending swinger and spouse-swapping parties. The swinging spies became the stuff of lore after a colourful 1988 book by former Washington Post journalist Ronald Kessler, but Koecher downplayed the relevance such extracurricular activities had in his work, as have former Czech and Russian intelligence officials.“It’s not so popular now, but a lot of people were doing it then,” he said.

Oh, and

In December 1983, Koecher and Fila held a meeting in a Vienna sauna. Koecher suggested establishing NGOs as a means of conducting intelligence work – an idea presented as almost absurd in the StB files but common practice in 21st century spycraft. According to the StB the year “ended well”, but 1984 would not.

Koecher had his lawyer take a letter to the Soviets, which ended up on KGB chief Kryuchov’s desk. “It simply said that my life is threatened. They can’t convict me,” Koecher said. “I suggested that they trade me for Sharansky.”


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

You Bothered About the Term "Settlements"?

It's tough in the semantic battles.

Why "settlements" when "communities can be used?

But giving it some thought, we've been-there-and-done-that.

Did you know there was the Jewish Colonial Trust?

It was

The financial instrument of the Zionist movement. Its establishment was suggested at the First Zionist Congress, held at Basel in 1897; the first definite steps toward its institution were taken at Cologne, May, 1898. It was conceived by the political Zionists as a financial instrument which should hold in trust the moneys of the Zionists for the direct purposes of the movement, and, at the same time, should act as a bank and carry on business according to the methods of the commercial world.

Arabs claimed even before 1967 that we set up "colonies".

In the 1952 NYTimes obituary of Chaim Weizmann, we read:

Weizmann had dared to criticize Herzl as "too visionary," and in 1900, at the Fourth Zionist Convention, he emerged as the leader of the Democratic Zionist faction.  This group opposed both the political Zionists, who wanted political guarantees for the establishment of a Jewish home in Palestine, and the practical Zionists, who wanted to settle Jewish colonies in the Holy Land without regard to political guarantees. Dr. Weizmann helped reconcile their differences.

On January, 8, 1937, testifying before the Royal Commission, Weizmann suggested its member to visit the Jewish colonies in Palestine.  He called them 'colonies' after his first visit in 1907.

I could go on, but my point is made.

We got over "colonies", we'll get over "settlements'.


Friday, June 24, 2016

All Praise to Fadi Amira (It Can't Be 250,000)

I was sent to an Arabic site and found this relating to my previous post on my doubt that the numbers of Fridays of Ramadan worshippers could reach 250,000 or even more:-

the Al-Aqsa Mosque can not accommodate more than 180 thousand worshipers if filled completely, and this is based on the accounts of space engineering and numbers.  how is that ?

A specialist in the area and painted effects, Fadi Amira, worked hard and made this calculation, pointing out that Al-Aqsa Mosque area of ​​144 dunams, augmented by Marwani area amounting to 4 acres, and the chapel down tribal Mosque and the Mosque of Al-Buraq, for a total of 150 dunams (that's a lot of mosques).

150 dunums must be redcued by 60 dunams as follows: the door of mercy dirt and size of the area in front of him, school, mosque, women, and the museum, and the domes and retreats rooms Guard, police and spaces of buildings and drawers and footpaths, and this will be the remaining area reached 90 acres.

90 acres equal to 90,000 thousand square meters (dunam = 1000 square meters), and every square meter has room for a couple of worshipers [I doubt that], making it a total final 180 thousand worshipers, and in this case filled with Al-Aqsa Mosque worshipers on the entire surfaces above and below ground.

In some cases, we see the numbers of worshipers are praying over the dirt spaces and in the corridors, but that will not raise the number to more than 200.000 worshipers at best, and all references to more than that is not true.

Well, that settles the Ramadanadingdang.

See below for the Arabic if you don't trust me.

لكن الحقيقة التي قد تفاجئ البعض، هو أن المسجد الأقصى لا يتسع لأكثر من 180 ألف مصل في حال امتلأ بشكل كامل، وهذا بالاستناد إلى حسابات المساحة هندسياً وبالأرقام.
كيف ذلك ؟
المختص في المساحة ورسم الآثار، فادي عميرة اجتهد وقام بهذه العملية الحسابية، مشيراً إلى أن مساحة المسجد الأقصى المبارك تبلغ 144 دونماً، تضاف إليها مساحة المصلى المرواني البالغة 4 دونمات، والمصلى أسفل المسجد القبلي ومسجد البراق، ليكون المجموع 150 دونما.
150 دونماً يجب أن نطرح منها 60 دونماً وهي على النحو التالي: مساحة باب الرحمة والمنطقة الترابية أمامه، المدارس، ومسجد النساء، والمتحف، والقباب والخلوات وغرف الحرس والشرطة ومساحات الأبنية والأدراج وممرات المشاه، وبهذا تكون المساحة الباقية للصلا 90 دونم.
90 دونم تساوي 90000 ألف متر مربع (الدونم= 1000 متر مربع)، وكل متر مربع يتسع لاثنين من المصلين، أي أن المجموع النهائي 180 ألف مصل، وهذا في حال امتلأ المسجد الأقصى بكشل كامل وارتص المصلين على كامل المسطحات فوق وتحت الأرض.
وفي بعض الحالات نشاهد أعداد من المصلين يقومون بالصلاة فوق المساحات الترابية وفي الممرات، إلا أن ذلك لن يرفع العدد إلى أكثر من 200 ألف مصل في أفضل الحالات، وكل ما يشير إلى أكثر من ذلك غير صحيح.



Now reported:

Around 250,000 Muslims turned out to pray at East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque for the third Friday of Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month.


Around 220,000 worshippers from the West Bank and Gaza performed the third Friday prayer of the holy month of Ramadan at the Al Aqsa Mosque complex.

Another photo showing the relative non-packed element:


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Now, There's One More Location in Warsaw

I posted here this picture of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center employees, during our rectn trip in the footsteps of Menachem Begin, at the site where the Warsaw Ghetto battle at Muranowska Square took place:

I have now been informed that a new memorial site has been fixed at the site where Pawel Frank(i)el, ZZW commander, was killed at Grzybowska Street 5a while attempting to elude the Germans and reach the forests.  His small force managed to kill four Germans before they were killed in the firefight.

Wojciech Pluciński writes

On Sunday was 73 death anniversary of Paweł Frenkel and at the ceremony were

Mr. Paweł Szrot - Secretary of State in the Polish Prime Minister's Office - Represented by Mrs. Beata Szydło - Polish Prime Minister,
Mr. Jan Dziedziczak - Secretary of State in Polish Ministry of Forgein Affairs - Represented by Mr. Witold Waszczykowski - Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs (on behalf of the Polish Government),
Mr. Jacek Polańczyk - Director of the Cabinet Head of the Office for War Veterans and Victims of Oppression - Represented by Mr. Jan Józef Kasprzyk - Head of the Office for War Veterans and Victims of Oppression (during the ceremony read the letter of the Head of Office)
Colonel Joachim Franke - Defence Attache at the Embassy of Germany in Poland,
Mr. Piotr Olejniak - Representative of Mazowieckie Province Governor,
Representatives of the Mayor of Warsaw,
Representatives of the Mayor of Downtown district in Warsaw,
Rabbi Jehoshua Ellis - Representing the Chief Rabbi of Poland,



Sunday, June 19, 2016

When Dr. Ruth Solicited My Advice

My colleague at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center pointed to the reception desk one floor below our offices.

"Isn't that Dr. Ruth?" he asked.

I said, "I'm almost positive it is."

So, being the intrepid and adventurous sort, if not at times foolish, I went down, intent on welcoming her to the Center and asked if I could be of help. She said "I saw right away you knew who I am."

We chatted about my version of what the initials of my high school stood for, Yeshiva Preparatory High School, her sniper experience, her injury as well as some archaeology since just then, a group came in led by Dr. Gaby Barkai, also a friend, and we discussed the import of his discovery in the Center's backyard of the "Priestly Blessing

Just before Dr. Ruth entered, we had a picture snapped but for some reason, a heavenly halo enveloped me:

That was odd.

As it happened, as I was getting ready to go to the Book Week stalls, she exited the museum and I asked if all was okay.

And she asked me for advice.  Could I recommend a good but not long biography of Menachem Begin.  And I did.

She was so pleased that we took another picture:

If I seem too serious, try this one:

We chatted some more and then we went our separate ways.



How many Muslims pray at the Al-Aqsa compound on the Ramadan Fridays?

This site has 200,000.

So does Ma'an.

So does Wafa.

Last year, 230,000 was reported:

And even 350,000 on the third Friday last year.

Even 300 Gazans were allowed in (how many Jews are allowed into Gaza to visit the synagogue there [yes, Jews lived in Gaza]?).

Here's from a news item the previous week:

Sheikh Omar al-Qiswani, the Al-Aqsa Mosque's Palestinian director, told Anadolu Agency that only about 100,000 worshipers had prayed at Al-Aqsa on the first Friday of Ramadan, compared to some 250,000 last year.

Here's a video clip taken from the top of the Al-Aqsa mosque:

Now, I ask you, does that really appear to be 200,000 persons congregated there?



Check this out:


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

How To Spin and Bias The News

Here's an excerpt from a headline and lead-in from and AP story:

Theater & Dance
Israel culture minister probes troupes that shun settlementsBy Associated Press June 15

JERUSALEM — Israel’s polarizing culture minister has dispatched a contested questionnaire to theaters and dance troupes to find out whether they are performing in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, a first step toward changing regulations that will allow her to penalize cultural institutions that refuse to perform there.

I have placed in bold the words that were employed in an unfair fashion to affect how the reader should comprehend this story.  They are suggestive words, forcing one to arrive at a conclusion not necessarily supported by facts.

You have been warned.

And since it appears in dozens of outlets (I checked and saw Washington Post, ABC, UK's Daily Mail, etc.), without a change in verbs, adjectives or nouns, the semantic subversion is wide and extensive.

A Communist MK is simply noted as:
Dov Khenin, an opposition lawmaker,

The story also includes something else pertinent, that the cultural institutions were

asked whether they have refrained from performing in the northern and southern peripheries of the country 

Your "news".

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

He Did Not Have Sect With That Religion



Warsaw, Brisk, Vilna - Part Six

After Tuesday morning's touring, we ate another boxed lunch and then began the trip home.

First stop, the huge Acropolis mall:

where I didn't buy a thing.

Then to the airport for a flight in a ... small plane with propellors:

And a very loud flight:

And found out that the Hora is of Rumanian origin:

 a group discussion on the pros & cons and lessons from the tour at Warsaw airport:

Arrival was around 4:30 AM.

Back at the Begin Center by 6 AM for a half day's work.


Part One.

Part Two.

Part Three.

Part Four.

Part Five.


Stupidity in UK Parliament

Sir Alan Duncan

Does my hon. Friend understand the foundations from which he wishes to build that co-existence that we would all like to see? Will he unequivocally confirm that he endorses the Government policy that Israeli settlements on Palestinian land are wholly illegal?

Dr Offord

I can confirm that I think that. Indeed, the Israeli Supreme Court says that as well, so there is no misunderstanding about that.

During the debate on  Foreign Aid Expenditure, 13 June 2016.


Warsaw, Brisk and Vilna - Part Five

We crossed the border, successfully, 

and quicker than entering Belarus.  Arriving at Vilna, we drove straight to Ponyar Forrest:


They have now found the escape tunnel, see below.

We stayed the evening at the Conti in the city's old section

And ate at the Rishon Restaurant:

In the morning of our last day, touring:

President's residence:

Along Gaon Street:

The bust (work of a non-Jew):

A ghetto memorial:

Walking through Jewish Vilna:

A visit to the Maskilim Synagogue:

At the Lukishki prison where Begin was held from September 1940 to May 1941 and where he was sentenced as serving as an agent of "British imperialism":

And off towards the airport: